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13.06.2007 Business & Finance

Debate over 'fortnight' salary begin

By Statesman

The Controller and Accountant General, Christian Sottie last month proposed the introduction of "fortnight salaries" for public and civil servants to relieve them of the financial difficulties they encounter in the middle of every month.

The initiative was meant to make money available to public servants whenever they wanted, and to keep Government coffers safe, by reducing corruption through the system.

The Controller was of the view that the level of corruption in the country has increased because of unavailability of cash in the pockets of civil servants, hence the need to introduce the "Fortnight Salaries, as the solution to corruption eradication.

Information emanating from the office of the C&AG reveals that, series of meetings have been scheduled between the controller and stakeholders, including the Ghana Employers Association, the Trades Union Congress and its sub unions, to deliberate over the issue and to seek their input to make the implementation of the programme successful.

It is said that, public and civil servants, who would be categories under the fortnight salary programme, would have their total salaries divided and be paid to them at the end of every two weeks.

This will enforce the Accountant Generals Department to quickly prepare the pay slips of these workers on weekly basis, to facilitate the payment of their salaries.

A reliable source at the Accountant Generals Department, told The Statesman in an interview that the programme was in its initial stages and awaiting directives, support and approval from both stakeholders and government.

He said the Accountant General Department is presently analysing the cost involved in implementing the programme as regards preparation of pay slips, in relation to the cost of preparing slips for monthly salaries.

They were also considering the benefit to the workers who would have enough money on themselves throughout the month, to cater for their family needs, and other responsibilities.

He admitted that the programme, when implemented would definitely increase administrative cost at the controller and Accountant General. However, efforts were underway to reduce it to the barest minimum. Under the fortnight salary project, all workers would not be obliged to receive their salaries at the end of every two weeks, but those that are interested and in need.

Public servants are known to be massively involved in diverting Government funds for their personal needs. And normally attribute it to the inability of the accountant general to pay them on time, which sometimes render their pockets dry. So,in a bid to save the situation, the Controller had proposed the "Fortnight" salary initiative to curb the situation ,the source said.

The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Kwadwo Baah Wuredu told The Statesman in a subsequent interview that he supports such a move, with the view that it would reduce corruption in the public sector.

He however said government would need to be convinced more on how the project would be carried to attain the expected aim. He called for a nationwide debate to seek views from the general public before such a programme could be implemented.

Francis Anane, executive secretary of the Ghana employers association, in an interview with the statesman, said the fortnight salary programme is a laudable concept.

He said he doesn't see anything wrong with it since it would always put money into the pockets of public and civil servants.he said, howeer that the system would not enable the beneficiaries to save for the future as they have been currently doing.

It would also compel landlords to begin demanding rent allowances on fortnight bases.

According to him, some problems faced by employees, as known by GEA, are accommodation and transportation.

These come in high advance rates, and lack of available vehicles to transport workers to their work places on time.

He said the United Kingdom practice a similar thing, where workers are paid on weekly basis, and believed that it could be done succesfully in Ghana.